Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 23 News List

America's Marion Jones not so dominant

AP , SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

Torri Edwards runs in her 100m quarterfinal heat at the US Olympic Team Trials in Sacramento, California, Friday. Edwards placed first in her heat with a time of 11.36 seconds to advance.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Three-time Olympic champion Marion Jones finished second in her quarterfinal heat of the women's 100m at the US Olympic trials Friday night, good enough to advance to Saturday's semifinal, but far from her dominating form of past years.

Jones began her bid for a spot on the US squad for the Athens Games by finishing behind LaTasha Colander in the opening-round heat. Jones, who dominated the event in the late 1990s and is the reigning Olympic champion, finished in 11.38 seconds -- just seventh fastest among the 24 competitors.

Jones, who remains under investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency, is known for her radiant smile and bubbly personality. But she remained serious throughout and after Friday's race, and left the track without saying a word to fans or reporters.

Also qualifying for Saturday's semifinals was Chryste Gaines, one of four sprinters who face a lifetime ban after being charged with steroid use. Her case is awaiting arbitration by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The fastest quarterfinal time of 11.13 was turned in by NCAA college champion Lauryn Williams, who just finished her junior year at Miami.

When Jones last visited Sacramento, for the 2000 Olympic trials, she began her quest for a record five gold medals at the Sydney Games by winning her quarterfinal heat in 10.92. She routinely won races by large margins in those days.

When she won an unprecedented five medals in Sydney, three gold, she confirmed her status as track and field's reigning queen.

Now, she is dogged by allegations of drug use -- though she repeatedly has denied ever using performance-enhancing substances.

And her talk of trying to go for five Olympic medals again this summer is much more muted than in 2000.

"She isn't at the point where she was in previous years," said Inger Miller, the 1999 world champion and second fastest in the quarterfinals Friday with a time of 11.28.

"It's yet to be seen where she is."

A lot of other things have changed in Jones' life over the past four years.

She was married to shot putter C.J. Hunter in 2000, the year he tested positive four times for steroids. Now she's divorced from Hunter, and has a 1-year-old son with Tim Montgomery, the world's fastest man and one of the four sprinters charged by USADA with steroid use.

Montgomery begins his bid for a spot on the US Olympic team on Saturday.

He and Gaines won a small victory Friday when a federal judge in San Francisco rejected USADA's bid to review sealed grand jury testimony from the four sprinters charged with using performance-enhancing drugs.

Montgomery, Gaines, Alvin Harrison and Michelle Collins all testified before the grand jury that ultimately indicted four men connected to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

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